How many inches of bedding do I need for gerbils?

AquaticQueen

Member
(Sorry I am posting this on a fish forum, but I don't want to join some sort of rodent forum yet)

I was looking into getting gerbils eventuality and I have been hearing many, many different opinions on this question. How many inches of bedding do gerbils need? I have heard they like to dig a lot more than hamsters, so...........
Does anyone here have any experience with gerbils?

Thanks!
 

Chad8282

Member
AquaticQueen said:
(Sorry I am posting this on a fish forum, but I don't want to join some sort of rodent forum yet)

I was looking into getting gerbils eventuality and I have been hearing many, many different opinions on this question. How many inches of bedding do gerbils need? I have heard they like to dig a lot more than hamsters, so...........
Does anyone here have any experience with gerbils?

Thanks!
I just throw my bedding in and he sorts it out himself on some sides he piles it up and makes it how he likes it usually 2-3 inches for him to work with
 

SM1199

Member
Indeed I do! I've got three of them staring at me right now.

I have my three girls in a 29 gallon. They're almost two years old now and still act like they're just a couple months old. They use every inch of their 29 - I wish I could get them something bigger. They are constantly digging, constantly "re-scaping." Their bedding fills up about half the tank, which is around 9 or 10 inches (height of the tank is 18 or 19 inches). If I gave them something deeper, they would absolutely use it.

Also, keep in mind - only fill the bedding up to 2/3 of the way that you expect the bedding to be deep, because once they start digging and making holes, the top layer will be pushed upward a significant amount. So if you're bedding with the goal of 9 inches, give them 6, and they'll do the rest. You can always give them extra later, too.

Most places online say a minimum of five to six inches of bedding. More is better. When I first got them and they were a bit smaller, I put them in a 20 long I already had, knowing I'd get a bigger tank. A half-filled 20 long would be about 6 inches of bedding. I got a bigger tank the next day - a 20 long was definitely not enough for them!

If you have any other questions, feel free to ask!
 

SM1199

Member
And a photo, just for fun ~

20200421_215558.jpg
 

Princethepurplebetta

Member
I keep my 2 girls in a 40gallon with 8 inches of bedding on 3/4 of the tank and about 2 inches on the other where the wheel and water is. Mine looooove having a deep side to make tunnels in
 
  • Thread Starter

AquaticQueen

Member
Thanks everyone! I have a few more questions.
How many hiding places should I give them?
Good foods/treats?
Best type of bedding?
 

SM1199

Member
AquaticQueen said:
Thanks everyone! I have a few more questions.
How many hiding places should I give them?
Good foods/treats?
Best type of bedding?
My gerbils will make their own hiding places and nests in the bedding. I will not give them plastic of any kind (wheels, hides) because they will chew them to shreds. I haven't tried plastic with these three gerbils, but I did with my pair of males years ago, and they always destroyed it.

I'm not super particular about foods, so long as it is not high in fatty things like sunflower seeds and peanuts. If it has those, I remove them and keep them to the side as treats. I don't like foods with dyes in them, but they're basically unavoidable. Right now, I'm feeding them the block version of FortiDiet Prohealth. They love it, and I don't need to worry about them picking out only their favorite seeds (as they will with mixed-seed foods).

Gerbils love nothing more than fatty seeds for treats! Sunflower seeds are their absolute favorite, and good for their teeth. I give each one a couple sunflower seeds each day as a treat and a reward for coming to hang out with me.

I use aspen wood shavings. Other people use the CareFresh and other synthetic stuff, and that's fine too, but pricey. I find that the wood shavings are just another thing they can use their teeth on (which is great!) and they can't quite do that with the synthetic beddings to the same effect. If you go with shavings, absolutely do not use pine or cedar. Only aspen. The other two are irritants to gerbils (particularly respiratory), so I don't know why they even sell it for them.

I "supplement" their bedding with other things like cardboard, toilet paper/paper towel rolls, toilet paper, and hay. No one is 100% sure if gerbils actually eat the hay or if they just chew it and use it as bedding, but either way, it's good for them and their teeth. Toilet paper is just to line their nests with if they so choose, and cardboard/rolls are to keep their teeth and minds occupied.
 

flyinGourami

Member
Okay so I have never kept gerbils only hamsters, but about the bedding, for hamsters(and I would assume its the same for gerbils) do not use scented bedding or cotton fluff. Scented bedding is bad for their respiratory systems and the cotton fluff can tangle in their paws and they can accidentally ingest it. I would still provide them with some sort of hide, just not a plastic one. I think even a cardboard box is sufficient as a hide. From what i"ve heard with gerbils, mesh wheels are fine, its just the barred ones that they sometimes will get injured from. Pretty sure this rule applies to gerbils too, but when they are running on the wheel make sure their back and tail are not bent or barely barely bent, or this can cause back problems in the long run. With food, again I'm only familiar with hamsters but I believe as long as its not too fatty, nutritionally complete, doesn't or barely have any artificial dyes and flavors, and not too many fillers, its probably fine. Unfortunately though, a lot of pet foods have a ton of fillers.
 
  • Thread Starter

AquaticQueen

Member
SM1199 said:
My gerbils will make their own hiding places and nests in the bedding. I will not give them plastic of any kind (wheels, hides) because they will chew them to shreds. I haven't tried plastic with these three gerbils, but I did with my pair of males years ago, and they always destroyed it.

I'm not super particular about foods, so long as it is not high in fatty things like sunflower seeds and peanuts. If it has those, I remove them and keep them to the side as treats. I don't like foods with dyes in them, but they're basically unavoidable. Right now, I'm feeding them the block version of FortiDiet Prohealth. They love it, and I don't need to worry about them picking out only their favorite seeds (as they will with mixed-seed foods).

Gerbils love nothing more than fatty seeds for treats! Sunflower seeds are their absolute favorite, and good for their teeth. I give each one a couple sunflower seeds each day as a treat and a reward for coming to hang out with me.

I use aspen wood shavings. Other people use the CareFresh and other synthetic stuff, and that's fine too, but pricey. I find that the wood shavings are just another thing they can use their teeth on (which is great!) and they can't quite do that with the synthetic beddings to the same effect. If you go with shavings, absolutely do not use pine or cedar. Only aspen. The other two are irritants to gerbils (particularly respiratory), so I don't know why they even sell it for them.

I "supplement" their bedding with other things like cardboard, toilet paper/paper towel rolls, toilet paper, and hay. No one is 100% sure if gerbils actually eat the hay or if they just chew it and use it as bedding, but either way, it's good for them and their teeth. Toilet paper is just to line their nests with if they so choose, and cardboard/rolls are to keep their teeth and minds occupied.
I am happy about the bedding because I currently have half a big pack of aspen shavings right now and some Boxo Comfort. Awesome!

And for cardboard rolls, I could use empty toilet paper rolls?
 

flyinGourami

Member
AquaticQueen said:
I am happy about the bedding because I currently have half a big pack of aspen shavings right now and some Boxo Comfort. Awesome!

And for cardboard rolls, I could use empty toilet paper rolls?
Yes I believe you can. It'll double as a chew too.
 
  • Thread Starter

AquaticQueen

Member
Okay, so what else will I need?
Terrarium/cage+lid (not sure which ones I'll get just yet)
Waterer
Chews
Bedding
Food
Treats
A wheel or saucer?
 

SM1199

Member
AquaticQueen said:
Okay, so what else will I need?
Terrarium/cage+lid (not sure which ones I'll get just yet)
Waterer
Chews
Bedding
Food
Treats
A wheel or saucer?
Make sure to get a food bowl of some type. Preferably metal or ceramic, since they'll chew a plastic one.

Also, pick up some dust bath for them. It should be given every now and then to keep their coats healthy, and it's a great enrichment activity for them. Just make sure to remove it after half an hour or so before they tip it over or decide to use it as a toilet bowl.
 

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